West Bengal's Health Minister, Zainal Abedin, has appealed to foreign countries for medical supplies following reports that at least 1,000 East Pakistani refugees have died in a cholera epidemic in the Nadia district of West Bengal.
West Bengal's Health Minister, Zainal Abedin, has appealed to foreign countries for medical supplies following reports that at least 1,000 East Pakistani refugees have died in a cholera epidemic in the Nadia district of West Bengal. While fresh reports of more deaths continue, some sources have put the toll as high as 5,000.
At least 600,000 refugees have crossed into the Nadia district since the material law crackdown in East Pakistan on March 25. Many of them have arrived during the last seven weeks. Officials fear that the situation may be even more grave in the area of East Pakistan near Nadia. There is no civil administration functioning in the area and several reports say that cholera is raging there in epidemic proportions.
This film, from VISNEWS cameraman Durgadas Chatterji, illustrates the effect on the refugees and the diffcuty of the operations to halt the epidemic.
SYNOPSIS: East Pakistani refugees have continued to flood across the border into the Nadia district of West Bengal while the outbreak of Cholera has reached epidemic proportions. At least six-hundred thousand people have arrived there since the martial law crackdown in East Pakistan in March.
Despite the news that the Pakistan Government is to set up 20 camps inside the East Pakistan border to handle refugees returning, nearly one hundred thousand crossed into India last week.
This child is dying slowly of cholera. Refugees lie where they fall...in a pathetic effort to halt the spread of the disease, the sick and the dead are covered with matting and sheets.
Officials say that the number of refugees has increased because of cholera epidemic devastating the area of East Pakistan directly across the border from the Nadia district.
Doctors working in the camps are working around the clock to vaccinate the refugees against cholera, but they can do little to help those already suffering without the necessary supplies and drugs.
Because of the shortage of firewood, the bodies have to be buried. World Health Organisation doctors fear that vultures eating bodies left in the open may be spreading the disease. Those who can afford it flee to the cities to escape the epidemic...they travel by bus, bullock cart or on foot.